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Is Hydro Fracking Causing Earthquakes?

Posted January 24, 2012 9:57 AM

A seismologist with Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y. claims that the recent earthquake near Youngstown, Ohio was caused by the injection of fracking wastewater near a fault line. There's no shortage of controversy about the effects of hydro fracking, but can the activity cause something as demonstrative as a tremor? Is there enough information to move forward with the process or is more research necessary?

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#1

Re: Is Hydro Fracking Causing Earthquakes?

01/24/2012 1:00 PM

To be precise -- it is NOT the fracking that is associated with the earthquakes. The fracking has already taken place. The earthquakes 'may' be associated with the injection of the briny wastes (removed after fracking) into deep underground storage wells.

My opinion is that there are dozens (perhaps a hundred) of cubic miles of depleted salt mines near Cleveland, Ohio, where the briny fracking wastes could be stored in inert drums, and monitored. It doesn't make sense to me to inject the waste into blind wells, especially if these wastes might trigger earthquakes.

So again, let's not blame fracking for the earthquakes.

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#2

Re: Is Hydro Fracking Causing Earthquakes?

01/24/2012 11:23 PM

"... but can the activity cause something as demonstrative as a tremor?" Well I suppose a tremor can be used to show emotion.

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Re: Is Hydro Fracking Causing Earthquakes?

01/25/2012 12:49 AM
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#4

Re: Is Hydro Fracking Causing Earthquakes?

01/25/2012 11:05 AM

Deep mining for oil,gas and other minerals might cause it.

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#5

Re: Is Hydro Fracking Causing Earthquakes?

01/25/2012 8:58 PM

Although I'm not a fan of fracking, I don't think it is causing earthquakes. The injection of the waste may be triggering earthquakes. That may be a good thing. We want the earth's crust to slip freely, so as not to build up pressure until a major event that causes severe damage happens. A lot of little ones would effectively do that.

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#6

Re: Is Hydro Fracking Causing Earthquakes?

04/17/2012 3:28 AM

You could ask Cuadrilla, who are back in the news today.

Any underground operation is going to cause seismic events. Taken to the absurd, a moving lorry will cause seismic events.

Rock of whatever type is not a nice homogenous mass. Apart from variations in exact composition, there are dislocations that vary in scale from crystal leval right up to fault sized. It's exact state is not known until you get there, and can only be inferred from exploratory boreholes etc.

Tremors are caused by stick-slip between boundaries. (Imagine presing your hand on a desk, but also exerting force along the direction of your fingers - that juddering movement is stick-slip). Stick- slip is impossible to predict/quantify in the real world. There are too many unknowable factors. Generalization can be made about size/time of natural earthquakes, but accuracy is not even close to the order of decades.

Just my opinion, but fracking is unlikely to cause a 'big one'. Preliminary tests will unearth (no pun intended) the likelyhood that full scale fracking might cause problems. Peak Particle Velocity is an oft used measure when trying to quantify the impact of mineral extraction/tunneling/demolition etc etc.

Whether or not a millipede falls over depends upon which, and how many, legs you chop off.

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#7

Re: Is Hydro Fracking Causing Earthquakes?

06/20/2012 9:50 AM

I think fat people slipping and falling have greater effects in causing earthquakes than fraking does.

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#8

Re: Is Hydro Fracking Causing Earthquakes?

06/20/2012 10:45 AM

This question needs numbers, volume of brine, Chemical reactivity with surrounding stratigraphy, stratigraphical survey, mineralogy, Estimate of depth to crust / mantle plasticity layers, Old volcanic magma chambers ? Let me look up a book. Let's see..there's a couple I found at the local refuse tip......" Dana's Minerology ", "Encyclopedic Dictionary of Exploration Geophysics" by Robert E. Sheriff, 1974, Chevron Oil company, and "Physical Geology, 2nd Ed.", 1977, Richard Foster Flint and Brian J. Skinner. Firstly: in "Physical Geology ", there is a statement : " Shale Oil reserves, measured in barrels of oil equivalents, is much greater than Coal. " this of considerable significance, as conversion of coal into gasoline can be achieved at about U.S. $ 1.35 a gallon, and supplies could last 1000's of years, give or take , depending who you talk to. Now on page 576, there is a discussion of a theoretical link between earthquakes near Denver Colorado, between 1962 and 1967, and the injection , at a depth of 3,600 meters, of liquid waste. In the previous paragraph, there is the more than 40 Billion ton load of water causing the crust to sag , at Lake Mead. But the crust averages 25 miles thick, the deepest drill hole on land is about 7 miles ? In Russia, from memory, and of course temperature, and therefore plasticity, at drilling depth depends on many aforementioned factors. More location specific data, please. Hope you guys can access some decent textbooks, John.

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